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Prakash Patel

What are your three priorities within the board, and how would you approach them? 

There are a lot of ideas that I would like to focus on but these would be my top 3:

For me, the G7 regulations needs to be improved. We need faster processes for the current import/export system and we need quick solutions for our issues through a better set up of dedicated support systems that swiftly address and resolve such challenges.

In addition, we definitely need to restore our industry image. A lot of negative information has been spread about our industry in the past few years and that has damaged our image. I would like to put a process in place that ensures that we have a better reputation and maintain a cleaner, stronger image.

Finally, there are the banking challenges. Companies should be supported in being able to work with banks more seamlessly. Opening a bank account, for example, should run much smoother.


As representatives of a segment of the market, how would you stay in touch with your constituents/voters? 

I would keep myself available for my community to be able to contact me at any time, host webinars every month. In addition to that, I will also be implementing focus groups and live meetings. For the larger topics of concern I would also create a dedicated channel of communication such as a WhatsApp group, I will send emails monthly to inform my community of which issues I am focusing on and where we are in the process. I believe, being forthcoming about this information and the processes will allow them to see that I am dedicated to making sure their concerns are being addressed which will provide me an additional vote of confidence


How would you ensure their voices are heard and their concerns addressed.

I would start by getting as much information as possible, then focus on building better connections with corresponding authorities to figure out the best solutions and, where possible, prevent it from happening again. Also, throughout the process I would like to reassure them by keeping them in the loop where possible.


How are you tethered to Antwerp?

I have done business in Belgium for the past 3 decades. I’ve watched it change throughout that entire time as people come and go and the industry evolves. I have created strong bonds with those who I have done business with and that has given me a lot of insight on where there is still room for improvement in this industry.

On a personal note, I pride myself on being one with the community and regularly participate in different events, these would be sports teams such as bowling, badminton, cricket etc. I am also a board member in the A.I.A. (Antwerp Indian Association). By being so involved, not only have I grown accustomed to being able to manage and solve issues, but I have also made very good and long lasting connections that I am fully confident will help and support me in my time as a board member.


What are Antwerp's assets?

The key strength of the city is in its support for the diamond community. Over the past few years, the city has offered many innovation opportunities to the industry as well as prospects for software and technology. Such tools can be an immense asset to our industry to help reduce our costs as well as make our work more efficient. However, not many companies have reacted to this offering.

Antwerp has been a key trade center for diamonds since the 15th century. Diamonds have been a part of its identity for longer than anyone can remember and thus it already has various organizations and groups to support and guide the many traders and brokers here. With the newly imposed G7 regulations and looming uncertainty for the future of our trade, it will be very important to support and rely on such organizations, like the AWDC, to provide proper guidance and clear instructions on how to go forward.


What is the best-kept secret of Antwerp?

There are so many beautiful hidden gems and fascinating historical pieces in Antwerp but I particularly like the Vlaaikensgang and the house on Stoelstraat 11.

The Vlaaikensgang is one of the most silent places in the center of Antwerp. Where we get quite busy in our everyday life it is nice to take a step into one of these quieter, harder to find spots. If you time it well, due to the acoustics of the courtyard, you would be able to hear the bells of the Cathedral amazingly well. It's really hidden and sometimes a bit hard to find if you don't know where it is. Making it all the more special when you take a step inside.

The house at Stoelstraat 11 is also around the center of Antwerp and has a very interesting history; one that speaks perfectly to the character of Antwerp. The house there has been protected since 1949 but in reality it’s actually been there a lot longer than that. The Stoelstraat was originally opened in 1496 and the "Oldest house of Antwerp" was built in 1546. Unfortunately in the '70's they renovated the house but did not respect the old materials and did not respect the infrastructure of the house; it was leaning over the street and wasn’t as straight as the modern houses. We can still see the house in its semi-preserved state today, even if it is not 100% in its original state.